Posts Tagged ‘waste’

Plastic Free July

July 1, 2018

You may not know, I did not know, I only know because it came up as I was typing a hashtag, it is Plastic Free July.

The place to begin is your local coffee shop.

Are those takeaway coffee cups compostable, do they sell reusable coffee cups, for example KeepCup, do they offer discount if bring a clean, barista friendly reusable coffee cup?

Not that compostable coffee cups or reusable coffee cups are the answer, they are not, they are addressing symptoms, but at least they are a small step in the right direction.

Why are you still drinking coffee in a chain, it is not drinkable coffee, they opposed the latte levy, many dodge tax, they drain money out of local economies?

As always it is indie coffee shops leading the way.

Support your local indie coffee shop. Relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic. Ditch your bad takeaway habit, not unless you bring your own cup.

Question over packaging in supermarkets. Worst offenders Waitrose and M&S.

Buy fresh produce off your local market or farmers market.  It will be fresher, cheaper, pick what you want and pop into a brown paper bag.

It will be interesting to see what Guildford farmers market, Winchester street food market and Godalming street food market are doing. The environmental standards on these markets appalling.

 

 

 

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Do compostable coffee cups compost?

June 25, 2018

Compostable coffee cups are a step in the right direction, but addressing symptoms not the underlying problems of takeaway grab it and go throw away culture, which is part of a larger problem of pointless consumption.

Compostable coffee cups raise two questions:

  • what to do with the coffee cups
  • do they actually compost

If I pick up a coffee cup then wander down the street what to do with the cup? If thrown in a bin it will join the general waste stream.

Do the cups compost, do they compost on a compost heap? Some cups claim to be biodegradable, a few compostable, some make no claim at all. For example a coffee cup from Morrisons, the outer is card, can be recycled, but what of the inner core, a composite structure forming an integral whole?

Only one way to find out, conduct a little experiment, deposit takeaway coffee cups on a compost heap.

A little collection of cups, including what I believe to be a plant-based cellulose straw. It clams to be biodegradable.

These added to a compost heap a little after midday today. End of June temperatures 27C and forecast higher over the next few days.

Always need a control. Added a cup from Starbucks which helpful staff did not believe to be biodegradeable.

Starbucks have on sale at £1 ugly reusable cups. Bring own reusable coffee cup a small discount of 25p.

As always it is indie coffee shops leading the way. One small chain Boston Tea Party has banned takeaway cups. More need to follow their excellent example, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.

Indy coffee chain to ban disposable coffee cups

April 24, 2018

I’d stop tomorrow but I think it’s only fair to give our loyal customers and fantastic team a month to get used to the idea. — Sam Roberts, Boston Tea Party

Indie coffee chain Boston Tea Party is to ban disposable coffee cups.

Yes, a step in the right direction.

A real step not the greenwash we have seen from Pret a Manger, Starbucks and Waitrose.

As always, it is the independents leading the way, not the corporate coffee chains, the same corporate coffee chains that lobbied the government not to introduce a latte levy.

Glasgow Coffee Festival has this year banned disposable coffee cups. It is either bring your own cup or festival sponsor KeepCup will have cups available.

Independents are already moving in the right direction, introducing KeepCup or clones thereof reusable cups, introducing compostable cups.

Reusable cups have to be clean and barista friendly. Too many are neither.

An example would be ecoffee cup on sale in Oxfam. Too large.

Reusable coffee cups are of limited utility, expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. Which explains their limited take up. I have yet to be in a coffee shop and witness a reusable coffee sold or in use.

Boston Tea Party had offered a 25p discount on drinks if customers brought their own cup. Less than 3% of their customers took up the offer.

This is in line with research. Take up is minimal if only a discount offered, it has to be coupled with reusable cups on sale.  But even then the best that has been recorded is around 30% take up.

The target demographics, office workers popping out for a coffee.

Boston Tea Party are to discontinue their discount if bring own cup.

Compostable cups raise a number of issues, a compost heap on which to deposit the cup, do the cups compost as claimed?

The only way forward is to introduce a latte levy, discourage takeaway coffee, encourage sit down and relax in an indie coffee shop with a cup of speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Plastic-lined disposable coffee cups, 2.5 billion a year in the UK, are not the only waste generated by coffee shops. What of the food waste, the waste milk, the coffee grounds?

Small Batch in Brighton, with the help of Espresso Mushroom Company, recycle their coffee grounds as a growing medium for oyster mushrooms, the growing kits are on sale in their coffee shops.

The Boston Tea Party has a similar scheme with Dartmoor Prison, Green Shoots, coffee grounds used for oyster mushrooms, kits on sale and the mushrooms served.

Boston Tea Party are sourcing water from Frank Water, who supply water in glass bottles not plastic. This though is questionable. Why not follow the practice of indie coffee shops in Athens, and what is increasingly becoming the practice in indie coffee shops in England, bring a carafe or bottle of ice cold water to the table or less often help yourself to water from a jug or a large jar with a tap?

Water as a human right. Without asking, a glass and a matt black bottle of ice cold water brought to the table at Tailor Made in Athens.

Boston Tea Party is a small chain of 21 coffee shops in the south west and midlands. Very odd for a coffee chain, no mention of the coffee on their website.

Government rejects latte levy

March 10, 2018

The UK’s throwaway culture is having a devastating impact on our streets, beaches and seas. Our report recommended practical solutions to the disposable packaging crisis. The government’s response shows that despite warm words they plan no real action.  — Mary Creagh,  chair  Environmental Audit Committee

In an act of crass stupidity the UK government has rejected out of hand the latte levy.

This is to reject out of hand the evidence and proposals from the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

It is a kick in the teeth to the many indie coffee shops that have done the right thing, introduced KeepCup, compostable cups, offered a discount to those who bring in a clean KeepCup for a refill, and above all, encourage people to sit and relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

It is a kick in the teeth to coffee drinkers who have bought a KeepCup, or better still relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic.

What the government has shown is that it is craven to Big Business. It has caved in to lobbying by the corporate coffee chains. The same chains, Starbucks and Caffe Nero that dodge tax, to which the government turns a blind eye.

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year. Coffee cups that cannot be recycled, as what at first glance appears to be paper, is plastic-lined paper, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined cups cannot be recycled.

Plastic is a modern day curse, it is destroying our seas.

And what does the government do? Nothing. The government would rather pander to corporate greed.

Next time the government claims to care about the environment, respond with two words, latte levy.

Labour must commit now that one of the first acts on taking office will be to introduce a latte levy to take immediate effect.

James Hoffman on disposable coffee cups and why we need a latte levy

March 3, 2018

Waste is a problem, and yet there is no reason why it should be, other than poor design.  We should have closed loops, the output of one process the input to the another, natural materials or man made which emulate these natural cycles.

In the natural world there is no such thing as waste, in ancient woodlands, we see not the accumulation of waste neither in time nor space.

Plastic is a modern day curse, unlike glass or steel or aluminium, it cannot be recycled, it is down-cycled, which at best delays its one way trip to landfill or incineration, or finds it way into the oceans.

We have beaches covered in plastic, we have ocean vortexes that concentrate plastic, one such being the Sargasso Sea.

Plastic eventually breaks down in the sea, the action of the sea and sunlight, to tiny bits of plastic the size of plankton. Small fish eat the plastic mistaking it for plankton, big fish eat the small fish, bigger fish eat the big fish, we eat the fish.

Toxic chemicals leach off the land, attach to the plastic. These too find their way into our diet.

The weight of plastic in the oceans now equals that of plankton.

Plastic is eaten by sea birds and sea turtles. They die with their stomach full of plastic.

By 2050 the weight of plastic in the sea will be equal to the weight of fish.

Domestic waste accounts for less than 5% of total waste. The majority of waste is generated by businesses and industry. We could eliminate domestic waste entirely we would still be left with in excess of 95% of waste. That is not an argument for not dealing with domestic waste, it is an argument for dealing with the other 95%.

Hypocrisy by councils who do nothing themselves to eliminate waste  whilst at the same time hectoring the rest of us.

Guildford runs a farmers market, Winchester a street food market. The standard on these markets abysmally low.

County Restaurant in Lincoln is the staff restaurant for employees of Lincolnshire County Council. Once again abysmally low environmental standards. Plastic cups for water, staff using disposable coffee cups,  food served in polystyrene burger-style boxes, plastic cutlery.

These councils, in areas which are their responsibility, should be setting high standards for everyone else to follow.

In the UK every year we throw away an estimated 2.5 billion coffee cups. The cups appear to be paper, they are not, they are plastic lined, and therein lies the problem, the complexity of construction means they are not recycled.

Yes, these cups can be segregated and aggregated and Chiltern Railways is running a pilot scheme, but all this does is legitimises a system that should not exist.  It also relies on the passengers segregating the coffee cups into three separate bins,  liquids, lids and cups. The recovered plastic will be down-cycled into branded pens for Chiltern Railways, the loop has not been closed, a delay in the one way trip has been introduced, nothing more.

These takeaway cups may be a tiny percentage of total waste, but it is plastic waste and plastic waste is harmful to the planet.

We should consider whole life cycle costs, which is energy, including embedded energy, material used, environmental damage.

Reusable cups, for example KeepCup, can be refilled, coupled with a substantial  discount, yes will be used. The best so far is 30% reuse, better than 1%, but nowhere near good enough.

KeepCup has become the industry standard, elegant and meets what can be described as barista friendly.  Downside expensive, heavy and a pain to carry around. The target demographic office workers popping out for a coffee.

Compostable cups, ok if I have been shopping, have fresh produce, pop in with my fresh produce, then drop off on a compost heap. But what if not, what then with the compostable cup, throw in the bushes, it is after all compostable?  And that assumes it actually composts when thrown on the compost heap, a moot point for the cups claimed to be compostable. At the very least we need honesty, compostable on a compostable heap within a reasonable time, otherwise coffee shops and their clientele trying to do the right thing are being conned, greenwash at best.

Paper composts on a compost heap, it improves the quality of the compost by adding fibre, it also helps to rot down quicker by opening up the compost heap to flow of air.

Reusable cups, compostable cups, address symptoms, not the underlying problems of grab it and go take away consumerist culture.

Which is part of a wider problem of society, the purchase of worthless consumer crap, from extraction, production, six months in our hands, then on to landfill or incineration.

Why do we disrespect coffee? How many hands does coffee pass through from the picker until it finds its way to Square Mile, to then be roasted, then on to a barista at Madame Waffle? We would not dream of pouring a good wine in a plastic cup, swigging it as we walk down the street, why therefore do we treat coffee in this way? Is it not to insult everyone from farm to cup?

Latte levy will not add any extra costs onto coffee shops, apart from the actual cost of administering it. That is why it is called a levy not a tax.

It is avoidable. It is designed to change behaviour.

Starbucks has introduced a 5p levy at a handful of stores in London, and already its clientele are bleating about the cost, threatening to go to Costa. Happy to pay for overpriced undrinkable coffee, and yet bleat about a 5p levy which is avoidable.

Why does any coffee shop wish to have its logo on a something that is bad for the environment, a negative association? Is it not far better to have a branded KeepCup to send out a positive message?

Speciality coffee shops care about the environment, support local businesses, buy direct trade coffee to support the growers.

Apart from being avoidable, the latte levy is or can be cost neutral. Takeaway coffee should cost more than sitting in a coffee shop with a  speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.  Hike the price of the takeaway coffee by the cost of each takeaway cup, then discount by that amount if brought in a KeepCup or similar for a refill. And yes, should be barista friendly the correct size and clean.

Unless bought in bulk, takeaway coffee cups are not cheap, add the branding, 30p a cup, and that is not counting the environmental costs.

A very simple principle, the polluter shall pay.

Baristas and coffee shop owners need to engage in dialogue with their clientele on how to reduce waste, encourage to sit and relax with speciality coffee served in glass or ceramic, discourage grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture.

A latte levy is to the benefit of speciality coffee shops as it matches their philosophy of serving the best coffee, an art and a craft to be appreciated. The losers will be the High Street chains which drain money out of the local economy, many dodge tax, serving undrinkable coffee, whose business model is built on grab it and go takeaway consumerist culture which is why they are lobbying hard behind the scenes to block the 25p latte levy.

And anyone who thinks business as usual, do nothing, is an option, it is they who will have to explain to future generations why they inherited a dead planet.

Chiltern Railways pilots recycling of coffee cups

March 2, 2018

Everyone needs to take responsibility; the reality is that everyone has been getting away with it for a long time. — Peter Goodwin, Simply Cups co-founder

Chiltern Railways is to introduce a scheme to recycle coffee cups at its stations.

Each station will have bins to deposit the cups, which are then taken away to be recycled, except the passengers have to segregate liquid, lids and cups, three separate bins.

An estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK. Anything that addresses this is to be welcome.

What appears to be paper cups are plastic-lined cups, and there lies the problem, these cups cannot be recycled and therein lies the problem.

At first glance the scheme looks good but does not stand up to close scrutiny.

The Chiltern Railways scheme is at best a distraction, at worst legitimises our throwaway consumerist culture.

If nothing else, it makes the point, plastic is not recycled, cf steel, glass, aluminium, it is down-cycled, the plastic to be turned into branded pens for Chiltern Railways.

In the natural world output from one process is the input to another. There is no accumulation of waste either in time or space.

Ancient woodlands are the perfect example.

Anything that forms closed loops, where waste from one system is input to another is to be welcome, but that is not the case with plastic.

The loop is not closed, all that has happened is a delay, the plastic has been down-cycled, then onward to a one way trip to landfill, incineration or the ocean.

Plastic is a modern day curse. The planet is being smothered in plastic, plastic pollution is killing our marine life.

From where do the passengers obtain their coffee?

A reasonable assumption, either on the train or a takeaway stall at a station somewhere en route.

Make it mandatory, a condition of the lease,  for any of these coffee outlets that takeaway cups have to be compostable, that they have on sale reusable cups for example KeepCup and offer a substantial discount if seeking a refill.

At the station, a bin for compostable waste or at rural stations a compost heap. Though there is a question mark on whether or not these compostable cups do actually compost on a compost heap.

On a different line, an example would be Alton Station, where volunteers maintain a station garden.

The introduction of a 25p latte levy will help to focus minds.

Whilst not applicable to rail passengers, we must end the grab it and go culture, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served on glass or ceramic.

Are compostable coffee cups compostable?

February 14, 2018

The proposed 25p latte levy appears to have focused minds.

In the UK we are throwing away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every single year. These cups cannot be recycled due to a plastic liner in what at first glance appears to be a simple paper cup. 

An environmental disaster, deadly for for marine life.

Something has to be done. Hence the proposed latte levy.

Indie coffee shops as always are taking the lead, are starting to offer on sale compostable paper cups, reusable KeepCups, discounts if bring back cups for a refill.

If I am on my way home, have picked up fruit and vegetables, I can pop my compostable cup in with my fruit and vegetables, then when home, deposit my compostable coffee cup on the compost heap.

But what if not on my way home, what if not a convenient compost heap, what then with my compostable coffee cup? And therein lies the dilemma, what to do with the compostable coffee cup? It will find its way into the general waste stream.

The underlying assumption, is that my compostable cup will do what it says, actually compost.

Only one way to find out, drop a couple of cups on the compost heap, sit back and wait. That was a few weeks ago. Nothing has happened. They are siting there. Though to be fair, it is winter.

If I am at Infinity Foods in Brighton or at the farmers market in Guildford, I will often pick up a biodegradable plastic bag, these are made of plant-based cellulose.

I will fill with kitchen waste, throw on the compost heap, or at least I used to.

What I found was, everything rotted down, the bag still there, even after several cycles through the compost heap.

For comparison, yogurt pots, those made of waxed paper, do rot down, leaving behind the plastic liner.

The plastic bag is very thin compared with the compostable paper coffee cup.

We need more people to do as I have done, deposit these compostable paper cups on their compost heaps and monitor what happens.

KeepCup and clones thereof are refillable, but from observation the take up and usage is low.  Easy to see why, expensive, bulky, often heavy, a pain to carry around.

This may though change, with 25p latte levy helping to focus minds and indie coffee shops reporting an increase in interest.

In Australia, or least Melbourne, Abigail Forsyth co-founder of KeepCup reports reuse rate has risen from 1% to 30%. Still low, but 30% a lot better than 1%.

The demographics to aim KeepCup at office workers popping out for a coffee, coupled with substantial discount when used.

Compostable coffee cups, KeepCup, are addressing the symptoms, not the underlying problem of grab it and go consumerist culture, typified by the chains serving disgusting undrinkable coffee.

Do we not value good coffee? Why do we not grant coffee the respect it deserves?

We wax lyrically about the terroir. We would not dream of swigging a good wine out of a plastic-lined coffee cup. Why therefore do we not treat a good coffee with the same respect?

We have to encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic, the only way to appreciate a good coffee.

We need dialogue between baristas and clientele, as to what we must do to get rid of disposable coffee cups.

Costa demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 19, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Costa why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25p latte levy, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer

January 16, 2018

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer to the growing waste problem of plastic pollution.

It seems to be that [reusable cups] are the best solution if we can get to that. — Caroline Lucas

In the UK, we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every year.

These coffee cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper lined with plastic and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Contrary to what Caroline Lucas has claimed, reusable coffee cups are not the answer.

I have yet to be in a coffee shop and seen a reusable cup sold, let alone used. When I have inquired, I have been told take up is minimal, even when a substantial discount is on offer.

There is also as James Hoffman has drawn attention to, a hygiene problem if people bring in their own cups to be washed.

Compostable coffee cups of little use, unless a compost heap on which to deposit.

Resusable cups are expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. With the exception of office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office and even then only if coupled with a discount, unlikely to have any impact.

Pret a Manger started the New Year with filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of any in-store information, lack of reusable cups on sale, will make little difference. Little more than a PR stunt.

Why are we not seeing any statistics published? I would expect to see a weekly report, to see what impact, if any, in reducing the use of plastic-lined takeaway cups.

Without seeing any results from Pret a Manger SumofUs have launched a petition asking that Costa follow suit.

This is tinkering at the edges, addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the grab it and go consumerist culture, encouraged by chains like Costa and Pret a Manger, it is what their businesses model is built on.

What we should be doing is encouraging relax with a cup of speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. Only then are we gong to reduce the plastic pollution.

We should also be pushing for the introduction of a 25p latte levy at the next Budget.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

Latte Levy

January 5, 2018

The UK has woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare – and now there’s no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep. — chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall

2.5 billion throwaway takeaway disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

Prior to the Autumn Budget environmentalists proposed a 5p levy on takeaway coffee cups. It would not have made a jot of difference and was wisely rejected.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has proposed what has already been misleadingly dubbed a latte levy, misleading as not a tax on lattes, it is a tax on disposable coffee cups, a levy of 25p on plastic-lined disposable coffee cups.

These cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper with a plastic liner, which means they cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration, or are dumped in the street as litter.

Note: The pedantic may point out there are three plants in the UK that can recycle these plastic-lined cup. They would be correct, but who is going to separate out these cups and send to the the plants? Thus to all practical purposes, they are not recycled.

The Select Committee took evidence. Three chains refused to cooperate, the usual suspects, Pret a Manger, McDonald’s, and tax-dodging Caffe Nero.

Earlier in the week, Pret a Manger launched filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of in-store information and sale of reusable cups in Pret a Manger, has been dismissed as  a PR stunt.

There are available compostable paper cups. But, in the absence of a scheme to compost or a compost heap to drop the cup on, will join the waste stream.

Reusable cups are of limited value. Expensive to buy, often made of plastic, have to be carried around. They only come into their own if used when popping out of the office for a coffee to bring back to the office, and only then if a substantial discount is given for their use.

The chains are already lobbying hard to stop the latte levy, their business model is built on encouraging the grab it and go, takeaway, consumerist culture, which may be why Pret a Manger  launched a preemptive strike earlier in the week.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

As always, it is the indie coffee shops who are leading the way.

What we have to do is discourage the take away culture. Compostable paper cups, reusable cups, is merely tackling the symptoms.

We have to encourage relaxing with a  cup of coffee at a coffee shop in ceramic or glass. There is then no requirement for a  takeaway cup.